Monday, Dec 9, 2013
Fewer Deer Dying From Fatal Virus
WSIL -- State officials say an annual deer-killing virus is not as widespread this year.
The Illinois Department of Natural Resources says the Epizootic Hemorrhagic disease is responsible for more than 400 deer fatalities across the state, but that number doesn't compare to last year.
"I've never seen an outbreak like we had in 2012," says DNR wildlife Biologist Richard Whitton. "It's a very fast acting virus. It causes internal hemorrhaging, fever. The deer become depressed."
The disease killed more than 2,000 deer in the state in 2012.
"I had probably close to 70 phone calls last year from the public, of numerous deer dead on their pond," says Whitton.
The disease is carried by gnats that bite the deer and transfer the virus.
"A lot of times land owners will find them in their ponds or in a creek," Whitton explains. "That is because they have such a severe acute high temperature and, generally, when you see them in that condition, they will die right there in the water because they are so hot and thirsty."
Local hunter Clint Taylor says he has seen the disease first-hand, finding three dead deer last fall.
"They were all by creek beds on different pieces of property I was on," Taylor says. "I assume they were going for water. There was no trauma that I could find."
Biologists say this year isn't as bad because of the mild summer. The cooler weather meant less gnats carried the virus. It has been a positive impact for hunters.
"Last year, I know there were several large bucks that were found dead, and this year I haven't heard of any, so I would say that would be even more of an opportunity for hunters to harvest big bucks," explains Taylor.
Biologists say the virus will likely run it's course in the coming weeks. Many of the gnats that carry the virus usually die before November.
Whitton says the virus cannot be transferred to humans.
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